Risotto with Asparagus and Ham

I’ve been making risotto for a long time and it’s one of those time consuming dishes that people avoid, but it’s easy to do, just give yourself a good 30-45 minutes (much of which can be spent checking email) in the kitchen. This is supposed to serve 4, but 2 hungry people cleaned their plates:

Risotto with Asparagus and Ham

  • 1 quart chicken or vegetable stock
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup leeks, the green part, washed and sliced thin, or 1 cup chopped onions
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • Parmesan, grated
  • Salt and pepper
  • Asparagus, cut into 1” pieces
  • Slivered or sliced ham, like prosciutto

In a medium saucepan, bring the broth to a simmer and keep warm.

Heat a Dutch oven or high sided pan on medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of butter, the olive oil and the leeks or onions, and cook until tender, about 3-4 minutes. Slightly increase the heat, add the rice, and stir to coat the rice. Cook for a few minutes until the rice is no longer opaque.

Add the wine to the rice and cook, stirring until the wine is absorbed. Season lightly with salt. Add a cupful of broth—enough to just cover the rice (for me it’s about 3/4 -1 cup). Stir and let the rice absorb the liquid before adding more. The rice should be cooking at a low to moderate temperature and slowly simmering. Keep stirring and adding just enough broth to cover the rice. It should take about 15 minutes total. Taste the rice for doneness, it should be a little al dente, but cooked through.

If you’re using asparagus, add them to the rice when you’re about halfway through the broth.

While still on the stove, add the rest of the butter, lemon zest and juice. Stir in the ham and season with salt and pepper if needed. Grate some Parmesan into the risotto, serve and enjoy!

My verdict:

I hate wasting the top parts of leeks, and ramps have such a limited season, so this came about as a way to use them up.

An Italian friend of mine suggested crisping up the prosciutto in a frying pan and sprinkling it over the finished risotto. It would have been great, if I didn’t nibble on most of it while stirring. Try it, it’s like prosciutto chips!!

I recently made this for some guests—one of whom was a chef and it was great, so don’t be intimidated by the recipe or your audience.

It’s also a great way to use up bits and pieces of things in your fridge. Feel free to improvise. Mushrooms are a natural, peas, other vegetables—a dollop of pesto, whatever is lurking in the kitchen. What are your favorite things to add to risotto?



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.